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Sonia Is South Tyneside's Teen Idol

Sonia Howard was the toast of the Customs House on Bank Holiday Monday, when she won South Tyneside's very own answer to the hit ITV programme Pop Idol.

In April ninety young hopefuls aged between 13 and 17 auditioned for a place in the Teen Idol finals, which were held on Monday night.

The whole event was organised and funded by the Lifelong Learning and Leisure Department of South Tyneside Council. To ensure everyone had the same chance of winning, the Council provided each of the twelve contestants with a backing track CD, a financial contribution towards a stage outfit and a voice coaching from Sandie Malia, the Bold as Brass Theatre Group voice coach.

During the first half of the competition, each of twelve contestants performed a song of their choice. Following the interval, the judges - David Ducasse (from local band Scooch), Ian McKeith (record producer), Sandie Malia (Bold as Brass Theatre Group) and a representative from the Beverly Artists Agency - had the tough task of selecting the final six contestants.

Fifteen year old Sonia from South Shields wowed the judges with her version of hit songs "From this Moment" (originally recorded by Shania Twain) and the Eva Cassidy version of "Over the Rainbow". Amongst the many prizes provided by South Tyneside Council are an opportunity to record a CD in Ian McKeith's studio and a choice of concert tickets. Sonia, who attends Harton Comprehensive is hoping to continue in the area of performing arts when she leaves school.

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